The Best Advice I Ever Received? Speak Up

A simple suggestion made years ago to “speak up” is perhaps the most impactful career advice I ever received and it continues to guide me today. My reluctance to share my opinion was grounded in a lack of legal experience and, if I’m honest, being somewhat intimidated by my surroundings. I recognized, though, that I knew a lot more than I was giving myself credit for and I could add value to the discussion. So, as a junior lawyer, I began to speak up with increasing confidence.

However, I needed to find my authentic voice; the conventional wisdom that tells young women to be more aggressive, more like a man, did not work for me. Being comfortable led me to being more confident, more earnest, and frankly, more effective. Over time, I recognized that the importance of speaking up extended well beyond my substantive contributions as a lawyer, and that I could use my voice to advocate for myself and others. Ultimately, for me, this has been key to succeeding as a lawyer and leader.

I share this advice with many female lawyers beginning their legal careers, who may be reluctant to trust their own voice and authority to express their view. And over the years, I have watched with admiration, as many of these women later commanded meetings, became role models for younger female lawyers, and advocated passionately—not only for clients but for themselves and others.